Florida officials arrested 27 people in an ongoing investigation dubbed “Operation TGIF” because of staged accidents the group perpetrated on Fridays.
The ‘staged accident’ ring billed auto insurers more than $300,000 in fraudulent Personal Injury Protection claims, according to the Florida Department of Financial Services.
The investigation began after fraud detectives from the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud were interviewed on a Miami radio show and afterward a caller provided details regarding staged accidents.
The caller helped fraud detectives infiltrate the staged accident ring between December 2006 and April 2007. Those arrested are charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and several are also charged with money laundering.
“We do not take insurance fraud lightly, especially when so many people are conspiring to rip off Floridians,” said Florida CFO Alex Sink. “I commend all of the investigators for their hard work and thank the caller who provided the tip for having the courage to stand up for what is right.”
Those arrested include:
-Martin Triana, 45, owner of MTG Diagnostic Center
-Gisela Casuso, 33, manager of MTG Diagnostics
-Jimmy Suros-Corzo, 35, owner, T&A Diagnostic Center
-Aramys Lopez, 32, manager, T&A Diagnostic Center
-Gerardo Melenez, 47, a paralegal who often passed himself off as attorney Victor Careaga
The suspects could face additional charges under a Florida law that provides a mandatory minimum two-year prison sentence for staging an auto accident. In addition to the arrests, search warrants were served at two clinics, an attorney’s office, and a home that served as the corporate address for two businesses.
The insurance companies defrauded in this investigation were 21st Century, Esurance, Geico, Met Life, Response, State Farm, Unitrin, Victoria Fire & Casualty, and AIG as well as Avis, Dollar and Hertz rental companies.
Source: Florida Department of Financial Services
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